Which Is Better- PRP Injection or Knee Replacement Surgery?

October 7th, 2019 - Posted to Orthopedics

PRP InjectionsMost patients with osteoarthritis of the knee usually end up with knee replacement surgery if they did not get good pain relief from oral medications and other conservative treatment methods.

But, with the advent of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection, it has been possible to avoid surgical intervention in a significant number of people, who could get benefits from PRP injection.

Osteoarthritis of the knee, a common degenerative condition that causes pain and restricted joint movements can severely affect the quality of life of individuals affected.

The condition is very common in the United States with a high prevalence of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in elderly people. It affects both genders equally, and at least 10% of men and 13% of women above the age of 60 develop this condition.

It is predominantly the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis that prompts patients to seek medical attention. Early stages of osteoarthritis are usually managed with pain medications such as Paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) along with exercise and physical therapy. Intraarticular hyaluronic acid injection and corticosteroid injection are also advised during the early stages of osteoarthritis of the knee. However, in the advanced stages of osteoarthritis, total knee replacement may be required. In recent years, PRP injections have become popular and are found to be effective in various stages of knee osteoarthritis.

Is PRP Injection Superior to Other Injections?

The injection of platelet-rich plasma isolated from the patient’s blood is a type of regeneration therapy, which means that it promotes the healing of degenerating tissues and thereby reduces pain. PRP contains various growth factors that reduce destruction and promote the proliferation of chondrocytes and remodeling. With the PRP injection, synoviocytes get activated and increase the secretion of mucopolysachharides in order to build favorable surroundings within the joint. Thus, PRP injection results in decreased pain, growth of degenerated cartilage, and improved function of the knee. Several studies support PRP as the most promising treatment modality for pain management in osteoarthritis of the knee. Recent research has found positive treatment outcome with PRP demonstrated through improved knee pain scores in most of the studies.

On the other hand, the goal of total knee replacement surgery is pain relief but there is a likelihood of pain persisting or worsening in a significant proportion of patients even if the surgery is done properly. Pain is the most significant reason for advising knee replacement surgery in patients with osteoarthritis, however, as PRP injection allows regrowth of cartilage along with pain reduction, it can be considered as a treatment choice before resorting to surgical treatment.